Friday, September 14, 2012

Leaving academia

Recently a friend of mine left academia in favor of an industrial position. The reason of leaving academia was not that he had an awesome offer he couldn't refuse, or geography, or family etc.etc. He left academia in utter despair.

This was also his second postdoctoral position and I thought he was doing okay with papers and stuff. He had searched for a faculty position for two years and had applied to many, many places.

To give you a background, he is one of the people I consider to be very smart. We have similar backgrounds and have worked in the same fields in our graduate study (although different sub field). Also we were in the graduate school together, and both of us graduated with a PhD much sooner than the average time in the department. Both of us got postdoctoral positions and had vowed to get into academia. We have spent countless hours talking about the strategies for applying to faculty positions, to get papers accepted, strategies for networking and exchanged numerous drafts of research and teaching statements. For all intent and purposes we were in this together .

Now that he has decided and accepted a position in a big shot company, I respect his decision. But I do feel that he abandoned me ( although he abandoned academia). I also feel that if he had waited a bit more and/or changed some of his strategy, he could had made it.

All of my friends and colleagues have stopped looking for academic positions. It seems that I am the last one standing and it is a lonely and frustrating place to be.